A millenium ago, the Vikings landed in Canada, Islam spread in China and Southeast Asia was already the world’s factory. Welcome to the first globalization.
Globalization isn’t just the stuff of airplanes and container ships. It’s not colonization and circumnavigation alone. It started much sooner. Dr Valerie Hansen, professor of Chinese history at Yale University, points to the year 1000 as one early watershed era when the world expanded and became smaller at once. Trade routes criss-crossed the Americas, Islamic scholars mapped the globed and major religions spread across Asia. In large cities, exotic merchants set up shop, black and white people lived together… and sometimes mobs descended on reviled foreigners.
01:38 A convergence of global events in 1000
06:26 250 million people and an agricultural boom
09:20 Trade and religion made the world smaller
14:02 Slavery introduced the masses to a wider world
15:48 Southeast Asia, world factory
17:13 How to become a Borderline member
18:07 The globe and the average Joe
20:17 Xenophobia back then
25:02 A series of constantly expanding rings
29:50 How that globalization differed from today's
Sources & credits
Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.
Valerie Hansen: [00:00:00] The impact of globalization is big and it affects a lot of people throughout society and not simply the top rulers or the most literate people in the medieval world.
[00:00:11] Isabelle Roughol: [00:00:21] Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline.
[00:00:25] Okay. We've had some tough episodes lately so consider today recess. But hey, this is still a pretty nerdy podcast, so my recess is a history lesson with a Yale professor.
[00:00:34] A couple of years ago, I went on holiday in Los Angeles and at the Getty museum, I was enthralled by an Egyptian mummy because it was a Greek mummy and a Roman one. This guy was an immigrant to Roman-times Egypt who had risen through the ranks and was perhaps a scribe or a priest. And so he had been laid to rest properly mummified as an Egyptian, but his face was painted on in the Roman style, and his name, Herakleides, was undoubtedly Greek. I love stories like this that show that our elders have always moved and connected between cultures.
[00:01:07] Those connections are exactly what Dr. Valerie Hansen saw when she started paying attention to the year 1000. She's a professor of Chinese history at Yale University. Other historians have written about the era, she told me, but always as separate cultures and nations and all that she could see was the links between them. A millennium ago, she argues, is when globalization actually began. Here's my conversation with Dr. Valerie Hansen.
[00:01:38] Valerie Hansen: [00:01:38] I'm a Chinese historian and I wrote a book about the Silk Road and finished around 2010. And at the end of that book, that book ends basically in the year 1000. And in the year, 1000, there are two things that happen that involve China, sounds funny, involve the borders of modern China.
[00:01:59] One is that in the far Western regions of China, in modern Xinjiang, in Khotan, where one of the places where the internment camps are most prevalent, one of the core Muslim areas of modern China, and so the most sensitive areas and where the repression has been greatest, that's in sometime around the year 1000, like maybe 1005, a Muslim conqueror from the Karakhanids conquers Khotan. The oasis city falls to this expanding empire. And the Karakhanids are in the book The Year 1000. They're one of the big central Asian kingdoms I write about. So you have a corner of Western China that has previously been, well, it's sometimes part of China, sometimes, usually not part of China, but it's never been under Muslim rule. So that's one thing that happens in the year 1000.
[00:02:59] Meanwhile, the Chinese have, or the Chinese, the Song dynasty is fighting a war with the people to the North who are called the Kitan, the Kitan people, and they found a dynasty called the Liao. And the Liao overpower the Song and they signed a treaty and they cordon off part of modern China. The whole area about around Beijing goes, becomes part of the Liao and is not and the Song relinquished control of this area.
[00:03:29] So those two things are happening in Chinese history. And those are both things that are kind of unprecedented. These conquest of Islam are certainly unprecedented. The treaty that the Chinese make with, the Song Chinese make with the North, there are some precedents, but this one is unusual in that the Song are in the inferior position, the Chinese are in the inferior position, and it lasts a long time, lasts a hundred years.
[00:03:54] Uh, and then the final thing that happens in the year, 1000 that I knew about, because I teach with a European colleague of mine, who's now moved to the university of Oslo, Anders Winroth, who's a Swede. He and I have often taught comparative European Chinese history classes. The Vikings touched down in America. And as far as we know, that really happens in the year 1000. And that that date is a combination of what Icelandic sagas tell us. And it's also what the archeology tells us.
[00:04:27] So those three things were in my head and I thought, why are these things happening? Is something happening around the world at this time that is making these things, these very different kinds of events, but all the events are about people going from one place or people in one region going to a region in another place and maybe bumping up against them as in the case of the Song treaty with the Liao, or conquering, specifically as the Karakhanids when they take the oasis city of Khotan, or the Scandinavians touching down in Canada. And that was the beginning.
[00:05:05] And then I just started looking for things around the year 1000 and going to, reading a lot of course, historians always read a lot, but going to museums and just thinking what happened in this place around the year 1000. Most of the time people would say, "it's this kind of funny thing." People would say, like the people who work in the museums or the captions in the museum, like, "it's this funny thing that when we look at, when we see new contacts with some place that we haven't had contact with before, it's around the year 1000."
[00:05:38] There's some examples in my book that are a little bit earlier, like the Maya. They are in Mesoamerica, so Mexico and the different countries in central America. And there, they don't really work metal there. It's a very sophisticated society with a writing system and a deep knowledge of astronomy, but they value jade. That's kind of their precious good. And then around the year 900... You know, I'd love to be able to change the nine and make it a 10 and make it the year 1000. But I have to be honest and say around the year 900, metal working starts to come in. Metal objects come in from the South, from what's modern Panama and Columbia. So that's how I got into this.
[00:06:26] Isabelle Roughol: [00:06:26] What is it then about, about that year? Is there something kind of magical thing happening around the world at this particular period in time? You know, even if you go a little bit further on either end of that specific date.
[00:06:39] Valerie Hansen: [00:06:39] Yeah. I mean, I think that's of course, the big question for historians is causation. Why did this happen? And you know, my answer is that there's probably around 250 million people in the world at that time. And that must be some kind of turning point where people start to move out of their home regions into other regions. And one of the reasons that they can do that is that there's agricultural booms in a couple of different places. So they're happening, these agricultural booms – and each of them is quite different – in China, in Europe, in the Islamic world, maybe among the Maya. And the upshot is that there's increased productivity, so some people don't have to work the land. They can be merchants or they could somehow make their livings off the land.
[00:07:33] A lot of people I think would say, Oh, it must be climatic change, right? That would help us understand these huge increases in agricultural output. And I think climate could certainly play a role. I don't say that much about climate in the book and I'm hoping... I have a collaboration with a climate historian, and one of the problems with climate history so far is that we know a lot more about Europe than we do about other places in the world.
[00:08:01] And so European historians are very confident that there was what they used to call the medieval warming period, but it turns out that Europe gets warmer, but other parts of the world, we're not as sure what's going on. So what used to be called the medieval warming period is now called the medieval climate anomaly. Okay.
[00:08:20] But one of the things, when you look at, for example, the Chinese record, is that there's a lot of technological innovation. You know, yes people move from North China to South China. And one of the things about South China is that it's very swampy and they have to move water off the land. And they have different technologies for doing that. Some of them are words that I think we in the modern world only know from the Netherlands, like polders, walls you use to block water off. And then there's some new seeds come in from Vietnam and those increased agricultural productivity. So I don't think it's just climate. Climate may be a contributing factor.
[00:09:03] Isabelle Roughol: [00:09:03] So as people get a bit freer from having to have everyone working in agriculture, what kind of globalization are we talking about? Is it trade, so is it just goods? Is it ideas? Is it people actually?
[00:09:16] Valerie Hansen: [00:09:16] I think it's all of those things.
[00:09:18] Isabelle Roughol: [00:09:18] Where does it start?
[00:09:20] Valerie Hansen: [00:09:20] Well, in the book, I start with the Vikings touching down in what is now Canada, because we have very good descriptions of the first encounters between the Europeans, the Norse – Vikings means marauders basically, so Norse is a little more objective – the Norse and then the local peoples of what's modern Newfoundland.
[00:09:45] And the first thing they do is kill each other. That, I mean, the Norse run into some indigenous people and kill them. No questions asked. But then they start trading. And they start trading just the things that they're carrying. So the Norse are carrying in one of these accounts, they're carrying some red cloth and they're cutting it. They have metal daggers, which the indigenous peoples don't, and they cut it into smaller and smaller pieces of red cloth. And the indigenous people are trading furs and when the indigenous people come to this first trading encounter, they're ready to trade. They have canoes that are just full of furs. So goods is definitely one of the things that is being exchanged. And I think that's probably the first thing that happens. You meet a stranger. He, sometimes she but usually he, empties all of his pockets or his bag. And you look and you think, "Oh, I love that red cloth. Oh, I'll take that bead, let's trade." Right?
[00:10:49] But ideas are also one of the things that are moving around. And one of the things that we can see in the year 1000 is that people are learning... Leaders usually of small war bands like the Vikings... the social structure of the Vikings is they're divided into war bands that are headed by a chieftain. And when we say a war band, I think people are thinking about something like 20, 50, 100 people. But if you're a successful leader, that war band can get bigger and bigger and bigger, it can get big enough to become a country. And that's how places like the first rulers in Norway and Denmark get going.
[00:11:27] And those rulers, once they consolidate control over a certain amount of territory, often they have come into contact with other rulers and they notice that rulers have more established historians say ‘polities’, but proto countries, smaller political units, often belonged to some kind of world religion. Like we call them world religions. At the time people just, I think, thought of them as big and powerful religions. So Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and a lot of people, a lot of these leaders... This is taking place, really everything I'm saying about religion is, it is documented. So I'm talking about Africa and Europe and Asia or Afro-Eurasia, that these rulers convert to these new religions.
[00:12:19] And so one of the rulers I write a lot about is the ruler of Ukraine. He converts to Christianity. And he's very interesting because he's in the middle of Eurasia, and so the sources tell us about his choices. And he chooses Christianity and he doesn't convert to Islam, right? And he chooses, he chooses the Christianity of Byzantium. He chooses Orthodox Christianity. He doesn't choose the the Christianity of Germany. And he doesn't choose Judaism. So he's really interesting that we get to know. The other cases, we just know that, like the Scandinavian rulers, they had been pagan, worshiping people like Thor that we all know from Scandinavian mythology. And then they switched to the Christian God.
[00:13:04] Isabelle Roughol: [00:13:04] And when the leader converts, then that trickles down into the people?
[00:13:08] Valerie Hansen: [00:13:08] Right. And that's, I mean, one of the things I was, I mean... the question that interested me the most really was the impact on everybody in the society. Not like, you know, some of these changes affect a small group of people. If a group of Norse, maybe 50 or a hundred people, go to Newfoundland and start trading there and bring back some goods to Greenland or Iceland, that may not affect very many people. Right? But if the ruler of the Rus, this proto country in modern Ukraine, converts to Christianity, over the centuries that's going to affect all of his subjects. Right? And so religion, I think is one of the places where we can see the impact of globalization writ large on a lot of different people in society.
[00:14:02] And then what you said about people, so one group of people who we know are moving, are these merchants. There's probably not that many of them. Another group that we know are moving are envoys. This is, the kings or the rulers send representatives to visit other rulers. And we know there's a lot of traffic like this because they often write about the movement of these courtiers.
[00:14:26] But slaves are, I mean, slavery is one of the things that I think is part of the human condition. I think slavery has existed everywhere in the world, probably since the first time somebody was stronger than somebody else. But in the year 1000, we have a lot of information about slaves. And one of the things that I think is different from later history and surprising to most people, is that the slaves come, yes, there's Africa as a source of slaves for especially the Islamic world, but I would say all over Europe and Asia, Africa is a source of slaves. But so is Northern and Eastern Europe. Like the word, our word in English “slave” comes from Slav. Right? And we, and we can see that people... In the year 1000, they're not writing in English, they're writing in Greek and Latin, but we can see a switch from the word that was used earlier in Latin that doesn't have anything to do with the Slavs to a word that is linked to the Slavs. And we also have slaves being exported from central Asia. And those are military slaves who are skilled warriors who can ride.
[00:15:33] So in that sense, I think the impact of globalization is big and it affects a lot of people throughout society and not simply the top rulers or the most literate people in the medieval world.
[00:15:48] And the whole Chinese population is consuming these aromatic woods and fragrances and spices coming from Southeast Asia. And the people in Southeast Asia are changing. They're still living in the forest or gathering these woods in the forest, but instead of being on their own schedule, they're now producing for export. It's not a very cheery story, right?
[00:16:13] The people, well, the people who are importing all of the woods and the fragrances are enjoying a life filled with exotic goods that they can partake of, and even poor people can go to a market and have a snack that's made with some imported fragrance or some imported spice. But the people in Southeast Asia are definitely affected, and that I think is a sign of globalization when people living in one part of the world are producing for a distant market and they have no control over that market. And maybe that market takes a downturn that affects those producers and they don't even know why it's happening. So it isn't very optimistic either, is it?
[00:16:57] Isabelle Roughol: [00:16:57] ,No, but it's interesting. And also because it's happening in Southeast Asia, so really like a thousand years later, we're in a bit in the same spot where you have that part of the world that's kind of the factory of the world. Um, and very much export- dependent.
[00:17:11] Membership ad
[00:17:13] Hey, it's Isabelle. Don't go away, this is just a super quick ad break.
[00:17:17] I want to talk to you about Borderline membership. Borderline is pretty much my full-time job. It's a hundred percent independent and a hundred percent funded by you, its readers and listeners. If you're enjoying this work, if you want to see more of it, please consider supporting it monetarily and becoming a member.
[00:17:33]Borderline members get every episode 48 hours early, sometimes with unedited interviews or often in a longer version with interesting things saved from the cutting room floor. They get an exclusive weekly newsletter with a curation of things worth paying attention to in the global citizenry. And a zoom call with me and other global citizens to dive in deeper or just hang out among friends.
[00:17:53] To join, simply sign up for the newsletter on Substack and choose the paid subscription option. Go to join.borderlinepod.com. Again, that's join.borderlinepod.com. And thank you.
[00:18:04] Now, back to our episode.
[00:18:07] How aware would an average person have been of their place in the world and the existence of other cultures, if they weren't themselves, someone who would either as a slave or as a merchant be traveling around?
[00:18:22] Valerie Hansen: [00:18:22] Probably, probably not that much. I mean, one of the things that's interesting about the year 1000 is if you end up, when I talk about globalization and I talk, I'm very careful that I'm talking about the beginnings of globalization, not full fledged, rampant globalization, but one of the questions is, how many people are aware of the globe, Right? The idea, the existence of a globe as opposed to just their world, the existence of the earth as opposed to their own world. And I would say you'd have to have a pretty sophisticated understanding of Islamic geography to know about the globe. And one person we know for sure who does – he's always called a polymath – is a geographer named al-Biruni, who also wrote a book about India. He was also interested in calendars and the eclipses and the movement of the skies. He was interested in languages. He's really a very broad person, but he has a mental image of the world and, and people who are with…
[00:19:24] And actually the ancient Greeks and the ancient Romans, they knew that the world was round. When we Americans grow up – I hope Europeans are more sophisticated than we are, they usually are – but when Americans grow up, we hear that Columbus, one of his key discoveries was that the world was not flat. And no. Nobody educated thought the world was flat.
[00:19:48] So going back to your point about how many people does this affect. I think most people probably didn't know that much about anywhere outside of their own country. But if they knew someone who had been taken as a slave or they met someone who was a slave, those are the kinds of encounters when people would have realized that there were other people in other societies, and it's something that's just starting around the year 1000.
[00:20:17] Isabelle Roughol: [00:20:17] But you do cite examples, particularly in cities where you had more foreign merchants coming in and out, then you do have some stronger reactions and some backlash even.
[00:20:30] Valerie Hansen: [00:20:30] No, absolutely. One of the things I was looking for and looking very hard for was anti-globalization. Are there any people who are opposed to these increases in trade? And there are three uprisings against foreign merchants.
[00:20:45] One of them is in the late 700s in China. One is in 995 in Cairo, so perfect for the time. And then the third example of this uprising against expatriate merchants is the massacre of the Latins. And that's in Constantinople in the early 1180s. And in each of those cases, we just know about crowds of people rising up, locals attacking these expatriate merchants who they could see are wealthier than anybody local. And sometimes they're wealthier because in the case of Constantinople, they've been given trading privileges that are superior to those that were given to the local merchants. Uh, and in some cases we don't know the trigger of the, the reason for the acrimony.
[00:21:40] In the Chinese example, there's a rebel named Huang Chao and he attacks these Islamic, these Arab-speaking merchants in this big Chinese port city of Guangzhou. And we can assume he's attacking them because they're wealthy. He's going, he's a leading a group of have-nots, an army, not just a group, a large army of have-nots and they attack these obviously wealthy people. So that's, those are people, I think you're right that people in cities would have been more aware of foreigners and in those kinds of cities, so the capital of the Byzantine empire or the big Chinese cities, there were foreign quarters with foreigners living in them. And people would certainly have been aware of this foreign presence.
[00:22:34] Isabelle Roughol: [00:22:34] So you had that separation, it sounds like, of even where people lived, that sort of segregation between the locals and the foreigners.
[00:22:44] Valerie Hansen: [00:22:44] Yeah, it's funny that there, I mean, in some cases in Constantinople, the Byzantine emperor gives people, gives the foreign merchants, they're from Italy, he gives them a specific area and that's where they live. Sometimes I think people just may gather and live together naturally. Right?
[00:23:06] That there's I mean, they may not be required to live in a certain place. Well, one of the cities that I'm very interested in is a Chinese port called Quanzhou – and Quanzhou spelled with a Q, Q U A N Z H O U. And in Quanzhou, the observers writing about this, they're writing in the mostly 1100s, they say, ‘Oh, this is a city that, it's unusual, people of different skin colors live together. There's mixed neighborhoods.’ So the foreigners are not always segregated.
[00:23:41] Isabelle Roughol: [00:23:41] Was the entry of foreigners controlled? I mean, you write about this port in Japan, which is the only place, I think, that foreigners are allowed in. I mean, do you need, do you need a visa? Do you need a passport? How do these things work at that time?
[00:24:00] Valerie Hansen: [00:24:00] So going back to the year 1000, nobody is carrying that kind of travel document that they use when they go around the world. But when they enter a new place, they may well be carrying a letter from their ruler. Or they may well, they may well obtain a document. When you go into China, the local officials will give you a document saying where you can go. So yeah, but you know, that would be, those are... That, I would say, would be typical of a courtier, one of these envoys going from one king to visit another. A slave I don't think would be carrying any kind of document. They would just... I think you could sail up in a port and we have some examples. There's a fable about a king who's kidnapped and sold as a slave. And he is on a ship leaving his kingdom somewhere in East Africa and he goes to Oman and he gets off the boat and goes to a slave market. I don't think so he's carrying any kind of document.
[00:25:02] Isabelle Roughol: [00:25:02] So we're talking about kind of a start of a globalization starting with trade, and ideas and people, for a small, small, very small percentage of the population, right? Where does that lead? Does that stop? Do we go back, do we regress? Like is it a period of globalization that ends or is it kind of a slow progression to where we are today?
[00:25:28] Valerie Hansen: [00:25:28] I see it as a series of constantly expanding rings. So that you have a small area, like in the very beginning. Well, people from Denmark go to Iceland, it's a big deal, right? And Iceland is unoccupied. There's no people when they get there. But then the ring gets a little bigger when they go to Greenland and it gets bigger when they go to, I was gonna say Vinnland, when they go to Newfoundland and in Canada. That particular expansion stops. They stay in Canada for 10 years and then pull out probably because it wasn't profitable, maybe because they were attacked by the indigenous peoples. But in the other direction, they expand into Eastern Europe, they're going down the main rivers of Eastern Europe and the Dnieper and the Volga and going into Ukraine and then even going beyond and going to let's say, well, I was gonna say they go to the Black Sea, but then they also go to the Caspian sea and the Aral Sea.
[00:26:38] So I think we can see these kind of expanding circles really all over the world. And yes, it's not always expanding right? People may like some, I'm thinking about some of the indigenous peoples in America that they may trade an item. Like they want seashells from California. So they may, there may be a trading network with California and then a different tribe comes into power and they block a route. And so they can't go there anymore. So there's some change in the availability of goods, but most, most of these trading networks continue to get bigger, right?
[00:27:20] The trend is that you establish trade. And one of the things that I write about in the book and that I do think as part of the human condition then and now is this desire for new things. So people crave these new objects. And I think that's the impetus for a lot of these, the expansion of these trading networks. So I do think there are moments when you can see globalization suddenly picking up pace, and these are I would say technological.
[00:27:54] I mean the 1500s is the first time people are circumnavigating the whole world, right? And so that's a change from most of what I'm writing about is people can go on very long long ocean voyages. But none of the people I write about, they crossed the Pacific, they crossed the Atlantic, they crossed the Indian ocean. Nobody goes all the way around the world. But if you think about the train at the end of the 19th century, that affects a lot of people, or the telegraph in the 19th century, and that expands these networks and also makes the speed of the contacts greater. And then the airplane of course makes a huge difference. The airplane and the container ship in the 1970s and 1980s. I think the one we, most people think about globalization that's when they think it started. Right. And I think that's a perfectly reasonable assumption because that's the technologies, those are the technologies we're living with now. Right?
[00:28:48] I don't know if you saw, the paper this morning has this very interesting story about one ship blocking the Suez canal, right? Well, that's 19th century technology. Right? That canal is the middle of the 19th century. The ship is a container ship. The ship was 13, 1300 feet long. So about 400 meters long, a little, probably too big for the Suez canal. That's what it sounded like.
[00:29:14] it's an amazing story too. It's an amazing illustration of how interconnected we are and how a grain of sand can break down the whole, the whole machine, right? Because these images of all the ships in line behind that one ship trying to, to get through between Asia and Europe was, is, is very, very striking,
[00:29:40] Yeah. Very striking.
[00:29:41] Isabelle Roughol: [00:29:41] So it is technology that kind of expands these rings that you were mentioning over time. Yeah.
[00:29:50] I'm going to try, I know you don't like it, but I'm going to try as a final question. You know, as you were researching and writing this, were there parallels to modern-day globalizations and modern-day reactions to globalization that struck you? Or should we leave history where it is?
[00:30:09] Valerie Hansen: [00:30:09] No, no. I was going to say what I struggled with... I mean, I wrote this book before COVID right? I submitted the final manuscript, I think, in January, 2020. And then COVID hit and I thought, Oh, you know, I was just too optimistic about globalization. I didn't, I didn't think enough about the downside of globalization.
[00:30:40] I was thinking about epidemics and looking for evidence of mass disease. And I, you know, there are some examples of, there's some plagues. The famous plague in Europe is in the 1340s, but there were earlier plagues in the Byzantine empire, starting around, I think, the 500s. There's nothing around the year 1000. Right? So there's nothing directly parallel to COVID. And there may have been, and it isn't documented because our documentary, our source base for the year 1000 is very uneven. Or there may not have been, you know, that maybe people were not coming into the kind of direct contact that would have fostered that spread of that kind of disease.
[00:31:24] The thing I've thought a lot about with 2020 and with COVID was that, so there are so many places that are entirely dependent on another country for their supply of, I mean, in the beginning of COVID, you know, PPE right? Or face masks. We suddenly discover, Oh, Americans don't, America doesn't make face masks. We import them from China and we can't import them right now because the Chinese need them or we can't import them because the shipping lines are down.
[00:31:59] And one of I think the big differences between now and then is that in the year 1000, the shipping technology was not as advanced as today. We're talking about airplanes and container ships that, and so both of those make it possible for one country to be entirely dependent on a foreign, a distant place for a 100% of its supply for whatever good it is.
[00:32:28] In the year 1000 there's massive amounts of goods that are being shipped. I mean, there's a wreck of a ship that's carrying 600,000 Chinese ceramics that is found off the coast of Indonesia. But that the frequency of that kind of ship, that's actually a problem I'm interested in now, but we don't know how many ships like that were sailing. Some people would say maybe one a year, maybe one every five years. Whatever it was, it wasn't enough to completely replace all the local potters. And we know that archeologically because we can go to a site and find Chinese ceramics next to locally produced pots.
[00:33:11] And so that I think is one of the salient differences between the year 1000 and now: that in the year 1000, the globalization wasn't wiping out local industry. It might've been challenging it or taking some of its market share, but it was still leaving enough of it that I think if no ship came, the local potters could continue to make what they made. And some of the interesting things of the year 1000 are seeing the local potters emulate, copy these Chinese vessels. Right?
[00:33:44] So that I think is one of the differences to me. This human desire for new goods, this kind of deeply felt impulse we have is not, there's no element of self control. Merchants don't come in and say, ‘Oh, we've reached 40% market share. We're going to stop now.’ They're like, ‘no, no, we're aiming for 100%.’ Right? ‘We'll make all the money we possibly can.’ And that's where I think we have to, in the modern world, look at this and think, do we want to be 100% dependent on X foreign power to make X good that we need? So that I think is the main thought I have about the comparison between the year 1000 and the world we're living in today.
[00:34:34] Isabelle Roughol: [00:34:34] That's really interesting. I think, I mean, we are answering that question at the moment, with everything we've been through with COVID. I worry that we're answering that question on trade by taking that anger out on people who move instead of goods that move.
[00:34:55] Valerie Hansen: [00:34:55] Yeah, I think that's true. And that's such a complicated question because people are not moving with the same freedom now, anywhere near it, that they were moving before COVID, right? So there's what you're talking about, that anger. There's also just the fear of the disease, right? If you are lucky enough to live in a place like Taiwan or Australia, like, Oh, we don't want it. Or Japan, right? Japan getting ready for the Olympics. We don't want anybody to come, right? We don't want to go through what we see these other basket case countries going through. So we'll just restrict immigration, right? Or we won't give, we won't give any visas. One of the reasons I like the medieval world is that I just find it a much more optimistic period than our own world where there's, there's so much cause for pessimism.
[00:35:45] Isabelle Roughol: [00:35:45] Well, thank you so much for this conversation.
[00:35:47] Valerie Hansen: [00:35:47] That's a little gloomy.
[00:35:49] Isabelle Roughol: [00:35:49] Yeah, we'll, we'll, we'll maybe in on the optimistic Middle Age, and leave it at that.
[00:35:54] The book is "The Year 1000: When explorers connected the world and globalization began." It's published by Simon and Schuster in the US, Viking in the UK and is translated or being translated in 13 languages. Thank you to Dr. Hansen for her time and her knowledge. We'll be back on to more modern politics next week, but I hope this helped provide some context, however distant, as well as some respite from today's world.
[00:36:22] Remember to sign up for the newsletter to get more essays and receive the podcast every week. And please consider supporting this work with a paid subscription so I can keep bringing you this podcast every week. Go to join.borderlinepod.com to become a member and welcome this week to Bill Kempffer and an anonymous new member as well.
[00:36:41] I'm your host Isabelle Roughol. Music is by Ofshane. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production. I'll talk to you next week.
Get the newsletter
Sign up to receive the latest episodes and best articles in your inbox.